Canadian Speed Skaters show high Olympic promise with 15 World Championship medals

The season is ending on a high note for Canadian speed skaters as the athletes won 15 medals over the last weekend – the team’s best combined result between Short Track World Championships and World Single Distances Championships ever since the latter was first held in 1996.

Canadian Long Track speed skaters won nine medals in Salt Lake City at the World Single Distances Championships, also a record for a Canadian Team at the event. Individual medallists include Cindy Klassen (Winnipeg, MB) (2), Kristina Groves (Ottawa, ON) (2), Denny Morrison (Fort St. John, BC) (2), and Christine Nesbitt (London, ON) (1). Shannon Rempel (Winnipeg, MB), Arne Dankers (Calgary, AB) and Justin Warsylewicz (Regina, SK) all helped capture the pursuit medals.

Milan, Italy is where Canada won the remaining six medals at the World Short Track Championships. Charles Hamelin (Ste-Julie, QC) (2), Kalyna Roberge (Ste-Étienne de Lauzon, QC) (1), and Francois-Louis Tremblay (Alma, QC) (1) all stood on the podium for individual races and their teammates Amanda Overland (Montreal, QC), Anne Maltais (Québec, QC), Annik Plamondon (Longueuil, QC), Olivier Jean (Lachenaie, QC) and Jean-François Monette (Pointe-aux-Trembles, QC) joined them in winning relay medals. Confirming this season’s Canadian domination in the 500m races, Roberge and Hamelin were both crowned World Champions in the distance, while Tremblay was vice-champion on the men’s side.

Canada ranked number one in the world over the weekend with a combined 15 medals, two ahead of the strong Korean team. Canadian skaters were amongst the top performers in both short and long track competition. In long track, Canada was second only to The Netherlands, who captured 11 medals, while in short track, Korea was dominant with an impressive 11 medals, followed by Canada with 6.

Now that the 2006-07 international speed skating season is coming to an end, with only the World Short Track Team Championships left next weekend, Speed Skating Canada looks optimistically towards 2010.

“Our objective for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games is to win 16 medals,” says Jean R. Dupré, Director General, Speed Skating Canada, “and if this weekend was any indication on how Canada’s skaters are doing, I think we are on the right track.” The Canadian Speed Skating Teams have been very strong throughout the season. Just at the two World Championships last weekend, seven different athletes stepped on the podium for individual races, and they were joined in top five performances by Olivier Jean, Arne Dankers and Steven Elm (Red Deer, AB). “This speaks highly as to the depth of both our short track and long track teams,” concluded Mr. Dupré.

Prior to this year, Canada’s best combined performance between the Short Track World Championships and World Single Distances Championships was 11, and it had been achieved in two occasions – 1998 (5 ST and 6 LT), and 2005 (5 ST and 6 LT).

Canada had a great season on the World Cup Circuit as well, with 32 medals in five short track world cups (12 gold, 12 silver and 8 bronze) and 27 medals in nine long track world cups (4 gold, 10 silver and 13 bronze).